Monday, April 16, 2012

The Merchant of Venice 2004 Essay

The Merchant of Venice 2004 Essay

William Shakespeare, one of the most prominent authors in the world, went down in the history of literature as a classic, whose plays touch upon eternally important subjects. Shakespearian comedies are especially famous. No wonder that many of them are cinematized. The Merchant of Venice, which was shot in 2004 by Michael Radford, became a worthy version of Shakespearian immortal work.

If we define the main theme of the film, the points of view might be quite different, as the comedy deals with several significant topics. On the one hand, Shakespeare draws readers’ attention to such notions as hatred and mercy and their ability to return a hundredfold to people. Watching the relations between Shylock and Christian characters, we see that evil always comes back to those who have done it.

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On the other hand, we can state that the main idea of the play is mercifulness that is preached by the heroes, particularly, by Portia, but is rarely present in their behavior. Portia proclaims a long monologue devoted to the importance of being merciful, but when she, personally, has the opportunity to prove it and to show mercy to Shylock, she humiliates him and compels him to kneel.

Still another topic can be considered as the main theme of The Merchant of Venice. It is the opposition of egoism and love. Here it is again the confrontation of Christian characters and Shylock.

At first sight, Shylock is interested only in money. He is greedy and self-interested, everything he does is based on his mercenariness, while Antonio, for instance, often sacrifices his fortune for the sake of those whom he loves.

This problem develops throughout the film and with time we make sure that Shylock’s character is ambiguous and sometimes we observe some human motifs in his behavior but greed. We see that Radford decided to show Shylock not as an absolute villain but rather as a victim of his own drawbacks. He is definitely cruel and merciless; however, it is necessary to consider whether it is caused by the discrimination by anti-Semites, or by his nature.

I believe, Radford’s contribution to the film is immense and due to it the film is so impressive. The scenery of the play is so skillfully reproduced in the film that it seems you live together with the characters. Moreover, Radford managed to cast the actors in such a way that it is difficult to imagine another Shylock or Antonio. Al Pacino lives the part of Shylock, making him a many-sided and deep character. Jeremy Irons also manages to convey all the traits of Antonio’s character, besides not only according to Shakespeare’s play, but according to Radford’s message too.

Radford does not aim at simple retelling of the play. “Instead of trying to simplify it, to bring the story into some artificial balance, director Michael Radford embraces the complex and disturbing nature of the play and unlocks its panoramic understanding of life” (LaSalle). He tries to show the situation in the society in the light of the relations between particular characters.

To make a conclusion, in his plays Shakespeare aimed to show that people’s characters are very controversial and it is impossible to pin down their personalities at first sight. I believe the director of the film skillfully managed both to convey Shakespearian message and to express his own point of view on the play. Due to a fine casting of actors and spectacular scenery, the film became a real masterpiece of cinematography.

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